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How to treat anorexia in cats?

(February 25, 2010)

If your cat is not eating properly or has totally stopped eating, it may be because of anorexia. Anorexia can be a symptom of some disease or an underlying problem of the disease. It always starts with a decrease in appetite followed by complete refusal to consume food.

Here are some possible causes for anorexia in cats or cat appetite loss:

  • Cats are very particular about their food. They can starve till you give them the right kind of food.
  • Cats depend on signals from their central nervous system to indicate hunger. Sometimes, if they are disturbed due to a change in location or in the kind of food served, they do not get proper stimulation from their brains, resulting in anorexia. However, this is a temporary condition.
  • Anorexia may happen due to mouth pain, which occurs because of a tooth abscess. Other diseases also cause anorexia in cats; they include gastrointestinal disease, kidney disease, ulcers, feline infection anemia, liver disease, congestive heart failure, intestinal infection, heartworms, side effects of some medication, and Addison’s disease.
  • Anorexia may happen due to underlying symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, chronic pain, and breathing difficulties.
  • If your cat has stopped eating for 24 hours or more, you should immediately contact your veterinarian. The veterinarian can conduct a series of tests to identify the real cause of anorexia in your cat, which may be due to any number of reasons.
Here are some of the diagnostic techniques to deal with anorexia in cats:
  • The veterinarian will ask for a complete dietary history to discover the exact cause of the anorexia. Anorexia could set in due to poor caloric food intake. Calculating the cat’s maintenance energy requirement and energy density of its diet can help determine the amount of calories required to be consumed.
  • The veterinarian may ask for your cat’s complete medical history.
  • A complete physical examination may be performed by the veterinarian to check for the presence of a wound or an abscess. An abdominal palpitation may be done to see if there is any inflammation and also to find out the size and shape of the cat’s internal organs.
  • A complete biochemical profile, total blood count, and urinalysis may be done to check for any metabolic disorder, inflammation, infection (viral or bacterial), or neoplasia.
  • An oral examination could be conducted to check for a tooth abscess.
  • An ultrasound and X-ray may be required to check if there is any abnormality in the cat’s internal organs.
  • A chest X-ray may be taken to check for congestive heart failure.
  • A fecal test may be done to check for the presence of a parasite in the cat’s body.

The treatment of cat anorexia includes treating the underlying symptoms, followed by treating symptomatic symptoms. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Correction of fluid and electrolyte balance is a must. This should be followed by an improvement in the palatability of food.
  • Food can be more palatable by adding tempting toppings. Give your cat more servings of smaller portions of food, rather than large servings. If your cat does not eat solid food, then try feeding it liquids instead. Feed your cat by hand, if necessary.
  • Drug therapy includes appetite stimulants such as benzodiazepine derivatives, analgesics, antiserotonergics, and antiemetics.


Submitted by N M on February 25, 2010 at 12:01


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